Sunday, October 31, 2010

Unlikely Adventures

Thursday morning was unseasonably warm. So much so that I found myself wading in Lake Michigan, even though the signs along the shore said not to. The signs were right. Soon I found myself swimming in Lake Michigan. The undertow had swept me off my feet and dragged me into deep water. I wondered whether this were the end, or if the current might change direction around the next point, or at least weaken enough that I could swim back to shore. Just then the bow of a submarine lifted me from the water. The entire bow dome was painted in an improbable red and white pattern.  First I thought, "This had better be an American sub." but then, "If this is an American sub, shouldn't it be somewhere else?" At least it wasn't pink like the one in Operation Petticoat. A JG appeared, and began walking toward me along the slippery metal surface, pushing a life raft, and cussing me out as only a submariner can.

Just then, the light came on. It was 6:30, time to get up and drive Mama Bear to work, so I would have the car when it came time to drive GL to therapy. I had been up past midnight searching eBay for a portable DVD player with LCD screen to replace GL's. I did eventually find one with a "buy it now" price of $30, with free shipping. It was a scratch and dent model, but guaranteed to work. The seller has 55,848 feedback ratings, 99.2% positive. Mama Bear pinched the budget until it screamed, and I placed the order Saturday. We'll see how it works out. Meanwhile, we have the loan of a player, which helps GL's peace of mind, and thus the peace of the entire household. Thanks be to God.

Some people seem to find a message from the Lord in every dream. Even in the Bible, such dreams were usually reserved for patriarchs, prophets, or apostles, and might be separated by generations or even centuries. If the Supreme Being is trying to send me a communiqué, I think He needs to lay off the ganja.

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Don't ask me for directions - I'm just visiting Normal-town

Great post over at Life is a Spectrum.

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Literalists and their ultra-optimism

Stolen from:  22 Words

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Keepin' it Real

Truth isn't all gloom and doom around here. Two of my posts are up at Kicking Kittens.

In other news, GL's DVD player quit working Sunday night right before bedtime. For those of you who don't know, he has a particular sensitivity to CRT screens. So bad that, for several years, we removed all television and computer screens from all the rooms of our home that he has access to, and locked them in the basement. Things seemed to improve, but then he began having full-scale meltdowns every Monday morning, followed by aggressive behavior that gradually improved during the week. By Sunday morning, he was back to normal. We were puzzled until we found out the church we were attending at the time showed Veggie Tales during Sunday School. A half hour Veggie Tales video would result in violent behavior for a week afterward. They wouldn't bend on showing the videos, so we pulled him out of Sunday School and saw an immediate improvement.

We think it has something to do with the flicker, because higher refresh rates have a less severe effect. A couple of years ago, we found out the new LCD screens don't have the same effect at all. Last Christmas, we got portable DVD player with built-in LCD screen on sale for $50. It's opened up a whole new world for him, and made it much easier to get some school done with Brother Bear. It's also a good motivator for GL. As soon as he gets up in the morning, he wants to get right to work on school so he can finish and watch DVDs.

We tried the player again Monday. It worked--sort of. It plays some DVDs some of the time, when it feels like it. The only way to find out what will play at any given time is to keep putting discs in until you find one that will play. For GL, that's just as bad as not working at all, if not worse. This is our third day with a temperamental DVD player. We have a regular (non-portable) player, but no LCD screen to connect it to. The going rate for a portable player with LCD screen seems to be about $100. To put it in perspective, that's more than a day's pay. After withholdings, that's closer to two days' pay. So I'm searching online for the best deal. Maybe we'll hit another good sale Black Friday, if we can wait that long. Necessity never made a good bargain.

His OT had to reschedule today because of a death in the family. Of course, in GL's mind, that means he can never go to therapy ever, ever again. In short, GL was NOT having a good day today. After BB finished school, I took the boys on a bike ride. In this wind, it was a real workout for all of us. GL usually gives up the minute he finds something difficult, but he kept at it this time. We fought the wind for about a mile, then let it push us back home!

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Good, the Bad, and the Truth

I linked this article because I think it demonstrates an important truth: optimists don't have a monopoly on inspiration. Put another way, pessimism and inspiration are not mutually exclusive. I began composing a reply, but I was interrupted interrupted by my son screaming, pounding on the walls, and tearing down pictures. Why? Because he suddenly decided he needed an "adventure" by which he means someone getting in the car with him, taking him someplace, and buying him some food. (And no, this wasn't about hunger. He'd just eaten half a pizza.) No one would drop everything immediately and do that for him just because he demanded it, so he started his screaming and wall-pounding. This was not a meltdown. A meltdown is much worse. When I said no, he began alternately threatening to keep pounding on the walls until I took him on an adventure, and briefly stopping his pounding to demand an adventure as a reward for stopping. I told him that no means no, and I will not respond to manipulative behavior. That meant we had no choice but to ride it out. So we did.

That's life around here. I tell it like it is. When something good happens, I celebrate. I don't mope around whining about my miserable life as the father of a boy with autism. When things are hard, I don't put on a counterfeit plastic smile and spew some saccharine platitudes about the glass being half full when it's darn near empty. I'm 100% real 100% of the time. Some people can't handle that, but at least I know they're rejecting the real me, not some synthetic version of me manufactured to please the public and failing to.

Have you noticed how a sanitized, Disneyfied version of a great story, whether a true story or a classic work of fiction, is never as satisfying as the original? Tame the fear and the sadness, and you tame the joy as well. I have no choice but to face anger, fear, and sadness untamed. I intend to embrace wild joy. That's what I like about Understanding My SonKicking KittensLife is a SpectrumBig Daddy AutismBoth Hands and a FlashlightOn the SpectrumAutism Herd, etc. The laughter is sweeter and the tears more poignant because they are real. I'd rather have real sadness than fake happiness. I will not allow other people, nor other parents, nor even other autism parents tell me how to interpret and experience my life in their funhouse mirror. It is what it is.

A few months ago, I visited an online homeschooling forum. Several moms were--let's call a manually-operated digging implement a spade--bitching. And there's no bitching I find quite so irritating as euphemism-clad Christian bitching. So what were they bitching "sharing" about? It seems that each mom had at least one kid (usually a daughter) who was a pessimist or, at the very least, whose optimism wasn't up to snuff. Here's the deal-breaker: they were not content to demand an honest assessment of events from that child; they demanded that she put a positive spin on everything. They were going to train this pessimism right out of her and make her a bleeding optimist! Their methods ranged from the absurd to the cruel. Have you ever felt the urge to do the impossible, reach through the computer screen and slap someone? If a positive attitude were so good and powerful and holy, and a negative attitude so rotten and weak and reprobate, how did they expect their negative attitudes and actions to inspire optimism? I immediately began composing a rebuttal in the form of a satire, titled "Optimism is a Serious Character Flaw." I wasn't foolish enough to send it. In fact, I never finished it, though I might one of these days.

Yes, we all have our good days and bad days. Yes, we all have moments when we tend toward excessive pessimism and others when we tend toward foolish optimism. If you choose not to talk about one or the other, you have the right to remain silent. But when you tell someone else they have no right to speak the truth because it makes you uncomfortable, and especially when, by speaking, that person inspires another to take righteous action, you can just go where liars go. I refer, of course, to Washington.

Coming Soon: Autism Parents: Two Camps, and Why I Don't Fit in Either One.

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Good Morning!

We woke up to sirens this morning--tornado warning, but it passed without incident, and GL actually went back to sleep afterwards! God bless those teen years with their sleeping in!

I just read a pessimistic, but inspiring post here.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

I vividly remember the moment when I considered the possibility that GL might be anything other than a brilliant eccentric. I felt as if I had somehow betrayed him. As if considering the possibility that various professionals (who never seemed to see him at his best, and who refused to believe us when we gave examples of things he routinely did at home) were right, somehow made it happen.


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Airplane Ride "Yee-haw"

Today I went to Young Eagles, which is a program by the EAA to give kids their first airplane ride. Papa Bear's been reading the weather report because usually if it's rainy or cloudy, they don't give kids rides. The weather report said it was going to rain all day. I could have gone to
Sibshops, which was scheduled the same day, but I decided to go to Young Eagles anyway because I might get a chance to use the Civil Air Patrol's simulator, which I only got to use once or twice before. So we went, and when we got there, we found out they were giving flights because it was only a little drippy. So Papa Bear started signing papers for it, and I went over by the simulator. They told me since I used it before, I should let the people who never used it before use it first, but I could watch. So I watched for a while, and then they called my name. I went up by the desk, and they introduced me to my pilot. I grabbed my jacket and we went out to the plane. He gave me a little safety lesson, which was basically, "Don't go near the propeller. Don't touch the propeller." It might start, and as Papa Bear put it later, turn me into a hamburger, and not a very tasty one. Then we took our picture next to the plane.

Then he showed me how to get into the plane, and we buckled our seat belts, shut the hatch, and made sure it was locked. He gave me a headset so we could hear each other while we were up in the air. He asked permission from the Tower to take off. Then taxied down to the runway. We had to wait a minute before we started because a helicopter was landing. Once the runway was clear, we took off. YEE-HAW, THAT WAS FUN!! We went over Lake Michigan a little bit. Our flight lasted about 20 minutes. We requested permission to land. As we landed, I saw Goldilocks' therapy place. Once we landed, a CAP cadet helped me out of the plane. We went back inside, where the pilot gave me the picture, a certificate, and a logbook. If I ever take flying lessons, I would get credit for my Young Eagles flight. I had him sign my picture, and went back to Papa Bear. We stuck around for a little while, and found out it was a good time to get my flight; about the time I landed, the weather started turning nasty. The cadets started putting the simulator away, so I never actually got to use it. But I got to do something even better: fly!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Yes, I do.

Brother Bear is not quite old enough to be a Civil Air Patrol cadet, but he has been coming to meetings with me for a while now. The cadets have been working on radio procedures, including the ICAO spelling alphabet, more commonly known in radio and aviation as the phonetic alphabet. (Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, etc.) He had some trouble remembering the code words, so when he is doing his schoolwork and asks me how to spell something, I spell it in the phonetic alphabet, pausing between codewords so he can keep up. Yesterday, he asked me, "How do you spell India?"
Using the correct proword from the regulation, (100-3, Attachment 1, if anybody cares) I answered, "I SPELL India: India..." (pause)
He laughed. "Do you really?"
"AFFIRMATIVE. I SPELL India: India November Delta India Alpha."

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010


When GL wants to converse, but doesn't know what to say, he often lapses into movie scripts. If it's a movie we've both seen, he knows what to say, and knows what I'll answer, which he finds reassuring. One of his favorites is from Toy Story. He always initiates with Rex's line, and I respond with Woody's:

Rex: "RAWR!!"
Woody: "Oh, how ya doin', Rex?"
Rex: "Were you scared? Tell me honestly."
Woody: "I was close to being scared that time."
Rex: "Oh, I'm going for fearsome here, but I just don't feel it! I think I'm just coming off as annoying."

But if he just wants a quick call and response, he shortens it:
Rex: "RAWR!! Were you scared?"
Woody: "I was close to being scared that time."

He often tries to start conversations this way with people who don't know or don't recognize the script. So when we saw the following T-shirt, we immediately thought of him:

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Kicking Kittens

Big Daddy Autism
Both Hands and a Flashlight
Life Is A Spectrum
On the Spectrum
And anyone else whose life is affected by a disability,
This message is for you.

Kicking Kittens is looking for your stories. Don't be put off by the title. It refers to the attitude of some people that finding joy or humor or happiness in the middle of disability is as offensive as kicking kittens. This is a place where people can post positive and funny stories. Scott, I know you have posted comics there. That's how I found your blog. I mentioned the above blogs by name because I find them encouraging, inspiring, and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny.

From the home page, here are the rules:

The rules

There has got to be common ground. I have started this blog to give people a place to tell their stories...positive stories . Too often we are mired down in the hows and whys, causes and cures. It is easy to forget that we are talking about people. One of the misconceptions that I have run into is that because I have children with disabilities-I am not allowed to have joy-nor are my children allowed to be joyful. Some of the comments I have received after relaying a funny story or anecdote...well you would think I had been kicking kittens.
So here are the rules. Anyone can submit a story, OR just a couple of sentences, OR a list of five great things either about their children or themselves. It must be positive, There will be no discusion of causes, cures, treatments, etc. There are more than enough places for that. Mean people will be deleted. If you are interested in taking part in this adventure please submit your story to please no pictures or video-lets keep it simple. 
 Take a look at Kicking Kittens if you haven't already. I think you'll be encouraged. Post a story and encourage others, too. (Not to mention the linkback. Win-win for everybody.)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Ask a Silly Question...

Once, when GL was three or four years old and being uncommonly silly, even for him, I asked him, "What are you doing?"
He answered, "Screwing around."

I guess I had used that expression in that sense in his hearing. It just sounded strange for a preschooler to describe his own actions that way.

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Fall Cleaning Update

For those of you following our Fall Cleaning, here's an update: We took a week off school to clean house. Since we school all through summer, we can afford to do this. We were making excellent progress, but the job was bigger than I had estimated. As the end of the week approached, I thought if we took a second week and pushed through, we could make it.

Thursday night, I felt like I had something caught in my throat. I had a drink of water. The feeling remained. I tried eating and drinking various things, but couldn't get rid of it. By Friday morning, I had a sore throat. Over the next several days, I had a sore throat, body aches, and chills, but no fever. We continued at a reduced pace. It took all week to finish the kitchen. I still haven't cleaned inside or behind the refrigerator, nor inside the oven. Those jobs never did get done last year because just as I was nearing the end of Fall Cleaning, we all came down with the flu. Not H1N1, but a garden variety respiratory influenza that lasted on and off all winter.

I'm feeling better now, but I couldn't see taking a third week off school. The house is looking much better, but if we don't finish the job, the remaining mess will quickly retake the house. So we decided to start back to school, but continue with Fall Cleaning, devoting an hour a day to the project until it's done.  Today we did the living room. Beyond the usual picking stuff up off the floor, that meant moving the furniture, cleaning up all the stuff that accumulates under and behind it, and giving the room a thorough vacuuming. We did not, however, move the piano. That sucker's heavy!

How did we come to own a piano when none of us play? When we were packing to move here, some friends had a piano that was only played by their daughter, who was going off to college. Our boys were just about the right age for starting piano lessons, which we thought would do them a world of good. There was room on the moving truck. The catch: we couldn't find a piano teacher willing to attempt to teach a child with autism. At that point, GL was not far behind developmentally, and his behaviors were well-controlled by medication. I think he would not have been that different than students a year or two younger. But no one would try. They wouldn't even return our phone calls. BB was not that interested in lessons. And it would have been a financial stretch for us to afford lessons for one boy, let alone two. Since then, we have tried to offer the piano to anyone who would haul it away and play it. No takers.

All that remain to be cleaned upstairs are one closet, the fridge, and the oven. Then the basement, which promises to be as big a project as the rest of the house put together.

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Thank you for Your Concern

GL: Dad, would you make me a jelly sandwich, and, uh... uh...
Me: You'd like a  jelly sandwich and what else?
GL: Please make me a jelly sandwich, but, uh, first I want you to finish whatever you were doing.

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...Like You Need Another Hole in Your Head!

GL: Dad, can I get my head pierced?
Me: Where to you want your head pierced?
GL: (points to top of his head) Right here.
Me: No, I don't think that would be a good idea.

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Friday, October 15, 2010

Special Needs Blog Hop

I'm slowly working my way through the list of blogs on the Special Needs Blog Hop. I'm seeing some familiar and well-loved pages, and discovering some great new (to me) blogs, too. But I'm also finding quite a few blogs on the list that appear to have no other purpose than advertising goods and services for sale. In my book, that's SPAM. Since I didn't start this blog hop, I don't know how to remove these without removing the whole list. I guess the only thing to do is let them both grow together until the hop is done (I believe they plan to start a new one every week), then go through the list and harvest the good blogs and make my own links list in another post.

So to all the real people who found my blog through the blog hop, Welcome. To my regular readers, we now return to our regularly-scheduled blog.

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Autism won't stop on November 1st & neither will I

I couldn't have said it better, so I won't. Look here:
Autism won't stop on November 1st & neither will I

There is something in the autumn that is native to my blood—

A Vagabond Song

There is something in the autumn that is native to my blood—   
Touch of manner, hint of mood;   
And my heart is like a rhyme,   
With the yellow and the purple and the crimson keeping time.   
The scarlet of the maples can shake me like a cry            
Of bugles going by.   
And my lonely spirit thrills   
To see the frosty asters like a smoke upon the hills.   
There is something in October sets the gypsy blood astir;   
We must rise and follow her,     
When from every hill of flame   
She calls and calls each vagabond by name.

Bliss Carman 1861-1929

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My Favorite Autism Blogs

It's easy to feel lonely when your child has autism. And sad and angry and just plain tired. But especially lonely, because no matter how you explain what it's like, 99% of all the people in the world just. don't. get it. How could they? Most of them don't even know anyone with autism. Even if it affects a family they know, people with autism can be hard to get to know, and they have a hard time getting to know others. And autism takes so much of a family's emotional resources that there's little time or energy for a social life.

Even those who do get close to people on the spectrum and their families, whether professionals, volunteers, or dedicated friends, get to go home at night. For eight, ten, twelve or more hours a day, it's not their problem. Not that they aren't appreciated and even loved, so long as they remember that their empathy is necessarily limited. When they insist that they really completely understand, they prove that they don't.

So the only people who really get it are others who live with it. I wouldn't want to limit my friendships to only such people, but it's nice to know a few. I like to read their blogs, and have them comment on mine. But I have only a limited amount of time and energy. Reading and commenting on blogs, and writing my own, however therapeutic, have to fit around taking care of GL's needs, not to mention occasionally getting a little sleep and maybe even a little exercise myself. Some blogs and web sites, whether arguing for a particular treatment, or in favor of "acceptance", whether pushing a political agenda as the solution or advocating a complete withdrawal from some nonfunctional system, or just collapsing under the load in a puddle of misery or self-pity, take time and energy I can't afford, and in the end, give nothing in return.

Then there are the exceptions. The people who live this life without despair. Who tell their own day-to-day stories, not sugarcoating anything, but somehow managing to find humor, joy, peace, goodness, faith, hope, love. When I check my blogs, these are the blogs I read first. These are the ones that refill my cup and give me the strength, the grace, really, to keep on giving. I try to give back what little thanks and encouragement I can in comments, but I don't think it's possible to repay them for what they've done for me.

I hope you'll enjoy them, too. If you are affected by autism, I think you'll find them encouraging, inspiring, and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny. If you're not, I think they'll give you a new appreciation for this life, and help you be an encourager to those who live it. And maybe if we spread the word, they'll inspire more blogs like themselves.

Big Daddy Autism
Both Hands and a Flashlight
kicking kittens (Don't be put off by the title. It refers to the attitude of some people that finding joy or humor or happiness in the middle of disability is as offensive as kicking kittens. This is a place where people can post positive and funny stories.)
Life Is A Spectrum
On the Spectrum

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Join the Special Needs Blog Hop!

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Where are we going?

Yesterday, I asked GL to put on  a clean shirt. "Where are we going?" he asked.
That's his automatic response to any of the things that should be done at some point every day, but must be done before we leave the house:

"Go get in the bathtub."
"Where are we going?"
"Let's wash that peanut butter off your face."
"Where are we going?"
"Put on some deodorant."
"Where are we going?"
"Did you put on clean underwear?"
"Where are we going?"
"Let me comb your hair."
"Where are we going?"
"Your teeth need brushed."
"Where are we going?"
"Put on your shoes and socks."
"Where are we going?"

Yes, I answer his question the first time. If we are going somewhere, I tell him  where. If not, I just explain that these things need to be done every day, whether we're going anywhere or not. But, as I run down the checklist, with every item, he asks, "Where are we going?"

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Why? Because!

Children with autism use language differently. If you haven't spent a lot of time with someone on the spectrum, you're probably thinking, "Huh? what does that mean?" Well, for example, they use questions differently than we do. How they use them varies from one  individual to another, but they may use a question to elicit a particular response. The response is what they want you to do. It often has nothing to do with answering the question. If they don't get the response they're looking for, they may keep repeating the question. They assume we know what response they're looking for, so it never occurs to them to explain the purpose of the question.

We do the same thing, if you think about it. When we ask a question, we usually don't know the answer, are hoping the other person does, and are looking for a particular response: we want the other person to supply the missing information. We assume the other person knows this, so it never occurs to us to explain it. When someone asks us a question, unless it's obviously rhetorical, we assume that: 1. they don't know the answer, 2. they think we may know the answer, and 3. they are expecting us to provide them the missing information. It rarely, if ever, occurs to us that they could have any other reason for asking the question, unless there's some complicating social context.  Big Daddy Autism gave an excellent example today.

Until recently, GL never asked "why" questions, and treated our "why" questions as extraneous noise. Like "maybe", "why" was one of those totally meaningless words that his bizarre parents inexplicably attached enormous importance to. For about a year now, he has been experimenting with "why" questions.

Of course, like all questions, he uses them differently than we do. When he asks a question, and especially when he asks the same question repeatedly, he ignores our answers, which are irrelevant. His purpose in asking a question is usually to get us to repeat the question back to him, so he can supply the answer, whether to demonstrate his knowledge, reassure himself that the answer hasn't changed (usually the case with schedule questions) or to entertain. (This is the traditional method of using riddles in stand-up, which is how he delivers riddles. Unfortunately, most of his "riddles" are simply non sequiturs. To quote Veggie Tales, "Mine was funny. Yours was just... weird." And if something is funny once, it's just as funny the 500th time as the first.)

He has figured out that the answer to a "why" question begins with "because", but he isn't at all clear on what "because" means. He's a bit nebulous on the whole idea of cause and effect. I'm a bit dense about his rules, so I'll usually answer the same question a few dozen times in an hour before I remember I'm supposed to repeat it back to him.

For example,
GL (for the hundredth time): Dad, is Rex the dinosaur [from Toy Story] a leaf-eater?
Dad (for the hundredth time): No, Rex is a predator.
GL: Dad, is Rex the dinosaur a leaf-eater? 
(lightbulb goes on)
Dad: GL, is Rex the dinosaur a leaf-eater? 
GL: No, Rex is a predator.
(end conversation)

GL (for the hundredth time): Dad, what day is it, what time is it?
Dad (for the hundredth time): Look at the clock.
(Our clock displays time, date, day of the week, and indoor temperature. The outdoor temperature sensor is broken. It was a really cool chiropractic school graduation gift in 2003.)
GL: It says two three zero on a Wednesday. What do we do on Wednesday?
Dad: We go to therapy on Wednesday.
GL: Dad, what day is it, what time is it?
Dad: Look at the clock.
GL: It says two three one on a Wednesday. What do we do on a Wednesday?
(lightbulb goes on)
Dad: GL, what do we do on a Wednesday?
GL: We go to therapy.
(end conversation)

GL (for the hundredth time): Dad, why is the sky blue?
(A lightbulb goes on, and Dad stops talking about particles and oxygen and wavelengths.)
Dad: I don't know, GL, why is the sky blue?
GL: Because we can walk on them! Hahahahahaha! Dad, why is the sky blue?
(repeat ad nauseam)

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Monday, October 11, 2010

Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

The Accidental Expert, over at Raising Complicated Kids complains, and rightly so,
"Whoever said 'God only gives you what you can handle' has clearly never stepped foot in my house.  If they had, they would have just shut up.  At least I wish they would."  
When someone says that God won't give me more than I can handle, I look them in the eye and say, "I believe God does give me more than I can handle, and He does it intentionally." I let them squirm a minute, and then explain, "Because if He didn't, why would I need Him?"

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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Some people say that electronic communication has led to a decline in writing, particularly letter writing. The bread and butter letter, they say, is completely extinct. Au contraire. We had a pleasant Sunday luncheon at our home with a young and electronically well-connected friend. She had thanked us on Facebook by 3:20.


Saturday, October 9, 2010

This is my new Wallpaper

When I saw this, I thought it was a clever and oh-so-intellectual verbal pun. Which it is. And which someone will explain in the comments. Please? 

But the longer I look at it, the more I think it looks like my kids.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

...and He Does Windows!

When I was deciding whether to take a week off school to clean house, I mentioned it to Brother Bear. "The only way it would be worth it" I told him, "Is if you help with the cleaning." He said he would.

And he has. In addition to keeping up with his regular chores, he has done every bit of cleaning I have asked of him. Today I decided to teach him how to wash windows. After I demonstrated on one of the kitchen windows, he washed the bedroom windows, and did a respectable job on the first try.

So if you're looking for help around the house, (or partner for your daughter in about ten years) he says, "Yes, sir" or, "Yes, ma'am" as appropriate, he washes dishes, does laundry, picks up after himself (most of the time) and after his brother (when I ask him to) vacuums the floors... and he does windows!

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John Philip Sousa: Music to Clean House By!

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Has your kid's room developed its own B.O.?

The boys' room has had its own B.O. lately. We change the bedding, vacuum, and air it out, which all helps, but it always seems to come back.

We are in the middle of Fall Cleaning, our annual deep-down, do-the-hard-jobs-you've-been-putting-off cleaning. When we came to the boys' room, we changed the bedding, put all the summer clothes in storage, removed the dirty laundry that had been stuffed in with the clean, cleaned the closet, vacuumed, moved all the furniture and vacuumed under it. We found dirty socks anywhere they could be hidden: under the bed, behind the bed, under the blankets, under the dressers, behind the dressers, in the toy box, in the bottom of the closet. We even found dirty dishes in the closet. And guess whose they all were?

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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Say What?

On arriving at therapy today, GL exclaimed, "Whew! I made it here in one piece!"
I didn't think my driving was that bad.

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Fall Cleaning update

Papa Bear is too busy cleaning to update, so I’ll give a progress report. Papa and Brother Bear are kicking dirt’s butt around here. The Bathroom, large hall closet/ storage area, and boys’ room all got a very thorough cleaning yesterday. I can’t believe how clean & wonderful everything is. Thanks Papa you’re the greatest.

Quote of the day:

After looking at the state of the bathroom during Goldilocks’ bath. Mama Bear to Goldilocks: Why must you flood the bathroom to get clean?
Goldilocks to Mama: Am I grounded from ever taking a bath again?
Mama Bear to Goldilocks: Aghh!
Brother Bear to Goldilocks: (laughing)That’s not the way it works, but good try through.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

It's dead, Jim.

My UPS (uninterruptible power supply, a battery backup for a desktop computer) is dead. I've had it for 8 years +/- 1, so I guess I got my money's worth. I bought it after a power failure in which the power went on and off several times in a matter of seconds, so it kept cutting out while my computer was in the middle of rebooting. I finally got everything straightened out, and bought the UPS the same week.

Recently, it's been cutting power to my computer while the power to everything else in the room appears to be fine. Today, it started cycling on and off rapidly. Time to replace it.


Monday, October 4, 2010

Fall Cleaning Day 2/3 Mozart in the Morning

I was tired last night, so I went to bed early. For me, that means around 10 p.m. Usually when I do that, I either can't sleep, or wake up in a couple hours and can't get back to sleep. This time I slept until 8:30, and woke up refreshed. GL slept until 9. That's different! Got some breakfast, started the laundry, got the boys started on their chores, and put on The Masters of Classical Music - Mozart. I think this will be a productive day!

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A Day of Rest? or Fall Cleaning, Day 2

We started Fall Cleaning on Saturday, instead of waiting for Monday, and we had a very productive day. Since Sundays are usually so busy around here, I didn't think I'd get much cleaning done anyway, so I made it a day of rest. After church, we cam home and tried to take it easy.

But I found I've forgotten how to rest. I'm good at wasting time and being unproductive. Resting? Notsomuch.

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Sunday, October 3, 2010


At last week's squadron meeting, I was officially promoted to 1st Lieutenant. The Civil Air Patrol uses the same system of rank as the US Air Force, so you know what comes next. Those of you who know me know why some people are already having a good chuckle.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


I just published my blog to Facebook. Like it if you see it.

Fall Cleaning Day 1 and our Family Camp-Out

We started right after breakfast on cleaning the shed. Took everything out, swept it, threw out all the junk, put back in all the good stuff, and organized it. Then we started on our bedroom. Not a deep cleaning, more of a get-ready-for-deep-cleaning cleaning. You can't clean clutter. It's hard to clean around clutter. You can't even organize clutter. We got everything off the floor put away or thrown away, decluttered all horizontal surfaces, removed all the debris on the bookshelves so we can actually get at the books, put everything back in the closet and dressers that belongs there (it's a tight fit--decluttering those is part of deep cleaning) and ran the vacuum. Finished before lunch.

After lunch, we brought the boys' winter clothes up from the basement and had them try everything on. Then we packed all their summer clothes away and put winter clothes in drawers and closet. Found that GL has been hiding dirty laundry in his drawers, mixed with the clean--again. That partly explains why their room has had its own B.O. lately.

We try to have a family camp-out every year in September. The week after Labor Day is usually ideal: the weather is still usually pleasant, but not too hot, and we have the campground pretty much to ourselves. This September was too busy. Every day MB had off, we had to be somewhere else. We had planned to go camping tonight, until a cold front moved in, with near-freezing temperatures predicted. So we decided we could have a campfire in the backyard, but forgo sleeping outside. So after we got the boys' clothes put away, I dragged out the portable fire-pit thingy. When you get a good fire going, the radiant heat from the bottom of it is enough to kill the grass underneath, so I set it on the walk on the north side of the house, trying to position it not too close to the house, but not under the big tree. Then a strong wind came up. I went inside and checked the weather report: wind from the north at 21 mph, gusting to 39, with scattered showers. November's not a good month for pretending you don't have a house. Sometimes October isn't, either.

So we ate inside. We had chips and dip and brats cooked on the stove rather than over an open flame, but still pretty good. GL was bummed about not camping out, so after supper, BB set up the tent in the living room. First time he did it all by himself.

Then we all listened to The Johnny Cash Children's Album, which I 'd just got from the library. The boys enjoyed it, and we did, too. Over the last couple of years, I've been finding more and more Johnny Cash songs that I like. What I want to know is, why don't the people who are always trying to tell you how great Johnny Cash was ever play any of the good Johnny Cash songs?

I think before bed, we'll toast some marshmallows over the stove again and make s'mores. It works better than you might think.

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Friday, October 1, 2010

Fall Cleaning

October is here, so it's once again time for Fall Cleaning. 
"Don't you mean Spring Cleaning?" you ask, "and isn't this the wrong season?" No, I mean Fall Cleaning. After you've been cooped up in the house all winter and are beyond cabin fever, ready to go stir crazy if you have to spend one more minute within these four walls with these impossible people, can you think of a stupider way to use the first warm, sunny spring day than inside, cleaning house? And who's going to notice, anyway? As the weather improves, everyone wants to spend more time outdoors. By the time you're back inside for any appreciable time, the house is already dirty again.
Now on cold, rainy days in October and November, when you just had all summer, and usually some good weather in September to be outside, you don't miss being out there; you've had your fill. It's not that cold out yet, but it's wet and windy. Your domestic environment is showing signs of months of lick and a promise housekeeping. You have summer clothing and equipment for summer activities to put in storage. You have stuff that has somehow multiplied when you weren't looking and is beginning to crowd you out of the house. The look of the place has gone from lived-in to depressing. And you'll be spending the majority of your time indoors for the next few months. 
 One of the advantages of doing school all summer is that we can afford to take time off when we need it. We're taking a week off school to clean house. Before we made this decision, BB had to agree that if he was going to get the time off, he was going to have to help clean. And Mama Bear made me promise that I would spend the week cleaning and not just blogging about it. That goes for reading blogs, too. So I've been trying to catch up on my blogs this week, and linking some good stuff. (Don't tell Mama, but I'll try to sneak back and report on our progress, too.)

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Greetings From Your Friendly Neighborhood Pariah

I'm not complaining, because things are going pretty well at the moment. And we have a church that has gone out of its way to make our whole family welcome. And, even pre-autism, I've always been socially awkward and found social interaction exhausting and, well, hard. So I can only imagine what this life would be like for someone who finds socializing = revitalizing and who withers without it. Still, on the days when I'd like to be more connected with people, this post says it all: Greetings From Your Friendly Neighborhood Pariah.

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Why Homeschool?

Over at The Homeschool Apologist, Arby, of Boarding in Bedlam fame, posted a link to an article that asks, "Why Homeschool?" and comes up with an answer that you don't hear too often, but one that reflects a reason very important to our family. Most families these days, and even many homeschooling families, are careful and troubled about many things, but one thing is needful.

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